Beware of Female Spies

The United States Espionage Act was passed on June 15, 1917, two months after the United States entered the war.

"Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blue print, plan, map, model, note, or information, relating to the national defense, through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be list [sic], stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000, or by imprisonment for not more than two years, or both."

- Excerpt from Section 1 of the Espionage Act

"They are pretty dangerous, too, some of these women. No, I don't mean in that way. But they act as spies for the Germans and get a lot of information out of the men, and send it back, somehow, into the German lines. The Germans stop at nothing, nothing is too dastardly, too low, for them to attempt. These girls were intelligent, too, and always asked a lot of intelligent, interested questions, and you know a man when he is excited will answer unsuspectingly any question put to him. The Germans took advantage of that. It is easy to be a spy."

- American nurse Ellen N. LaMotte, May, 1916. LaMotte went to work near the front in France as a neutral in 1914.


Yeomen surrounding a bemused sailor

Yeomen (F) surround a bemused sailor at the Cardinal Farley Club, New York City in 1919.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Naval Historical Center Web site.

(image 31 of 45)

United States
ca. 1917-1918
55 x 36 cm